Keagan Kingsley is Athleisure

The comfort and convenience of a sports-luxe uniform is perfect for this slashie’s life

Words: Dylan Muhlenberg | Photographs: Paul Samuels

Having only been married for two months now Keagan Kingsley, aka Keagan Kingsley Carlin – née Green – is still trying to get used to her new name. The rest of married life is a cinch though.

“I love it,” says the 23-year-old blogger, photographer and activation specialist. “When you know, you know.” As members of the always-on generation, the couple met on Twitter. After exchanging some back-and-forth banter in 140 characters or less, Keagan’s now-husband, Greg, slid into her DMs and the rest is history. Initially geography kept the two apart, but Keagan has since moved to Johannesburg and considers this the second best decision she’s ever made. 

Walking into the Carlin’s Melville home, it’s easy to see why Keagan is so at home in her new home away from home. Flitting about the kitchen, while still dressed in her gown and slippers, she flicks through her phone and shouts out to Greg that Facebook’s 'On This Day' app just reminded her that her blog, Gold Creatures, started two years ago. (Greg mumbles back something about his only ever reminding him of his more horrible hairstyles.)

Their home is beautiful and filled with the keepsakes that they’ve collected over the years. Minimalist it’s not. Instead, it’s lived-in, cosy and homely; a very personal place with Greg’s art hanging on the walls, stacks of music biographies on the bookshelves and the mantelpiece boasting two SAMA awards and one from MTV Base. Looking around there’s also a crucifix that Greg’s gran gave him after his catechism, as well as a taxidermy bat, several skulls, a zebra skin, a considered collection of vinyl, and plenty of plants and freshly cut flowers. The phrase ‘treasure trove’ comes to mind.

Keagan says that her typical day involves waking up very slowly since she and Greg aren’t morning people. “Once I'm up, I'll make some breakfast, tea and coffee; then head out to Braam where I’ll either spend my day at the office, have a meeting with an influencer or a blogger at Post or Daleah’s, and after that go for a run at Emmarentia Park. Then, dinner and chill. Weekends are all about shooting – that’s my other job – and there’s usually a shoot plan on both Saturday and Sunday.”

While Gold Creatures hasn’t put Keagan in a position to quit her day job, yet, there’s no rush here. Working as an activation specialist for adidas South Africa from their Area 3 offices in Braamfontein is the type of cool-girl job most would kill for, and it’s this same day job that has a lot to do with why her sneaker game is so strong. Viewing the blog as a collaborative platform, Keagan says that because she’s now roped in Greg as reluctant male-model-and-menswear expert, it not only gives them something to do together as a couple, but also results in a product that others can’t match. 

The couple-goals thing works, sure, but it’s also the quality of the photography that sets Gold Creatures apart from the rest. After learning the ropes from Greg, who studied photography at art school, Keagan has grown so much as a photographer that she’s now commissioned by the likes of Siya Beyile and Thithi Nteta, to shoot for their channels.

So how does a woman who needs to do so many different things throughout her day – while also having to share these things with her followers on her various channels – dress the part? Athleisure. 

It's all about finding style in comfort, and because sneaker culture is such a big part of Keagan's life, she finds this comfort from the feet up.

“I’m always on-the-go, and because of this I don’t want to have to worry about what my outfit is doing. Style is dressing in a way that flatters you – knowing what you look good in is important, because if you do that it gives you so much more confidence. When shooting on the streets, being able to move is also important. You need to get down on the ground! When I started photography I was a bit stiff, where now I’m all over the place and my photographs are stronger for it. I think it’s the same with how you dress, where if you’re not comfortable in your appearance or how you dress people can see that.”

Making a first good impression and using your clothes to communicate who you are is important, and Keagan believes that people gather a lot of intel from what you put on and, in doing so, what you put out there. Bearing this in mind, she always dresses for herself and that’s why comfort and practicality come first.

“My style has definitely grown into itself where comfort is the most important thing for me now – sneakers, joggers, crop tops, bombers, a good peak! A plain black sports bra can be really powerful too, as well as an outerwear piece, like a nice big oversized coat – especially one with cut-off sleeves. It all comes down to simplicity, and I definitely think athleisure is here to stay. Think a few years back when sports luxe first came onto the scene and people didn’t really know what to make of it. Now we see plenty of people who are happy to go around in their sportswear. And that’s because it’s easy, comfortable and suits our fast-paced lifestyle. Athleisure will definitely become the norm.”

But what about care? How does Keagan ensure that she’ll keep her prized collection of sneakers and athleisure wear for as long as she’s kept the keepsakes that she decorates her home with?

“When it comes to pieces that are special to me, or intricate in terms of the fabrication, I always prefer to hand wash instead of putting them in the machine; so many things have happened in that machine! I’ve also lost so many good pieces to ironing – pieces that should never have gone near an iron. So I don’t let anyone take care of my clothing for me, and prefer a Do-It-Yourself approach. A wardrobe is a very close thing to a girl’s heart, and being able to care for your garments properly is an essential part of having good style.”

Bearing this in mind, Nicola Cooper, a lifestyle, pop and youth specialist, says that for Giles Deacon’s third range for Ariel, he specifically used a variety of different fabrications, prints, and textures in order to see how these elements would retain their shape and colour – and to test if the new product would be able to take care of high fashion garments. 

Wearing one of Deacon’s cropped sleeve, oversized and neoprene hoodies while exercising at Emmarentia Park, Keagan was pounced upon by a pack of over-enthusiastic dogs – adding a collection of muddy paw prints to the floral and polka dot patterns already present. Fortunately there was a product on hand that could easily fix that for us.

“Usually we’d resort to dry cleaning and that’s not always the best solution,” says Nicola. “So Ariel focused on something that you can use at home that would be able to take care of future fabrics. If you look at the sneaker trend, everyone’s rocking sneakers now, and that’s a trend that’s going to evolve more and more. So I’m excited by the idea that there’s something that can look after my sneakers and clothing constructed from similar materials. Clothing is expensive, and so sustainability and adding longevity to these things are core." 

If Keagan’s comfortable, then she’s confident – and she stresses how she can’t be either of those if she’s stressing about ruining what she’s wearing.

"First thing I consider is simplicity. I don’t like to over-complicate my wardrobe, so that’s joggers, leggings and neutral colours. I spend my time in some very cool spaces where everyone is on-trend, especially when it comes to their sneaker game. It’s about pairing the right pieces together and keeping things as simple as possible – softer, sportier fabrics with beautiful, feminine, clean lines."

And how does the bigger health trend affect her lifestyle positively?

“It’s important to be fit and healthy, so I don’t just dress this way but live this way, too. Healthy living is a priority for me so I do a lot of yoga – swear by it – and then running and a bit of training at the gym, too. I love how exercising makes you feel, how it gets the endorphins flowing, and I believe that it’s an integral part in keeping us balanced and helping destress our busy lives.”